TR TOP 25: Teams 10-6

As USA Today unveiled its preseason Coaches Poll last week, Tiger Rag now presents "our" College Football preseason Top 25. Today, we annouce teams ranked 10-6

6. Virginia Tech Hokies

2006 Record: 10-3, 6-2 ACC

With the tragedy of last April still weighing on the minds of Hokie Nation, Virginia Tech enters the 2007 season with loads of inspiration. Like they need, though? The Hokies return 16 starters, including eight from the nation's top-ranked defense from a year ago. Quarterback Sean Glennon and tailback Brandon Ore lead an offense that returns its top two receivers and four offensive linemen. The defense is spearheaded by heralded linebackers Xavier Adibi and Vince Hall. Other than a road trip to LSU in week two, the non-conference slate is a cakewalk with William & Mary, Ohio U. and East Carolina. The Hokies get Miami, Florida State and Boston College all in Lane Stadium as well.

 

7. Michigan Wolverines

2006 Record: 11-2, 7-1 Big Ten

Michigan felt they should have been playing for the national title last season. But the disappointment of being left out of the big game turned to misery when the Wolverines got drilled by USC 32-18 in the Rose Bowl. It got even worse when Ohio State, the only team to beat Big Blue, also got it handed to them 41-14 by Florida in the national title game. But there is optimism in the fact that Michigan returns 12 starters, seven on offense, including quarterback Chad Henne and running back Mike Hart. Back are the top two wideouts, including Mario Manningham. The defense has some holes to fill with only four starters returning. The schedule is pretty tough with non-conference games versus Notre Dame and Oregon. Michigan does go to Wisconsin, but they get do get Ohio State in the Big House.

 

8. Oklahoma Sooners

2006 Record: 11-3, 7-1 Big XII

The Sooners have been out of the national title picture for the past two years. The reason – the revolving door at quarterback. The Sooners will start their third different quarterback in as many seasons this year. Also, Adrian Peterson is gone to the NFL. However, Bob Stoops' team has 16 starters back, eight on offense, six on defense as well as the starting kicker and punter. Both of the teams starting receivers return with Malcolm Kelly leading the way. Tackles Corey Bennett and Steven Coleman spearhead the defensive efforts. The schedule includes a visit from the Miami Hurricanes, but other than the trip to Dallas for the Red River Shootout with Texas, things seem to go the Sooners way. OU gets Texas A&M and rival Oklahoma State in Norman.

 

9. Tennessee Volunteers

2006 Record: 9-4, 5-3 SEC

The Volunteers looked to be headed to big things a year ago, that was until a key injury to Erik Ainge dashed the Vols postseason hopes. However, Ainge returns to a Tennessee team that returns 13 starters, seven on the offensive side of the ball. A year ago, three of the Vols four losses came to top 15 teams and UT scored 35-percent of its total points in the fourth quarter, rallying for four of its nine wins. Ainge, along with LaMarcus Coker, highlight the offensive roster while end Xavier Mitchell and free safety Jonathan Hefney standout defensively. Things should clear up quickly for the Vols as they travel to California in the first week of the season. In week three, Tennessee travels to defending national champion Florida. After that, the Vols get both Georgia and Arkansas at home.

 

10. California Golden Bears

2006 Record: 10-3, 7-2 Pac-10

Jeff Tedford's Cal Golden Bears were primed for a national championship run going into the 2006 season. However, an early setback to Tennessee spoiled things right out of the gate. With quarterback Nate Longshore and star receiver DeSean Jackson back, the Bears get another crack at the Volunteers, this time on the home turf, as Cal goes hunting for a Pac-10 title. The Bears return 14 starters, including seven on offense. Cal has a stable of linebackers, is solid in the secondary and feature excellent specialists. The biggest question mark surrounds replacing all-everything running back Marshawn Lynch. The schedule is difficult, despite getting USC and Tennessee at home. The Bears travel to Oregon, Oregon State, Arizona State and UCLA.

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